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A primary reason that military staffs exist is to assist the Commander in making informed, effective decisions. The Commander’s role in complex decision-making is well laid out in the Maritime Component Commander Guidebook. It is also very clear that cross-functional staff personnel who comprise the operational planning teams (OPT) are responsible for the detailed planning and recommendations that underpin the commander’s decision. The OPT’s methodology for conducting planning is well defined in NWP 5-01, Navy Planning. What is less well defined is the crucial role of the senior staff officers, often called “staff principals,” who usually fill single-digit N-code staff billets. No doctrinal publication exists to assist the staff principals in conducting their role in the NPP. To address the lack of doctrine for staff principals, this article offers a list of 15 recommended tenets for staff principals to consider as they assist an OPT in providing solid recommendations to the Commander.


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